Woman in a Christmas jumper looking at her phone

Five common Christmas scams to look out for

Fraudsters are increasingly desperate to get into our pockets, so we should beware of scams this Christmas

Those of us who were targeted by Christmas scams last year lost £1,000 per person on average.

People were also targeted by fraudsters over the Black Friday weekend, the National Cyber Security Centre said.

As we try to balance our bills for Christmas, the last thing we can afford is falling prey to these Grinch-like crooks. So what can we do?

Look out for these five common Christmas scams

  • Fake websites. While online shopping makes it easier to buy presents, beware of websites where deals seem too good to be true. Most secure websites start with ‘https’ but we can also verify them through GOV.UK by searching ‘get information about a company” or look for online reviews. 
  • Fake delivery notifications. Scammers take advantage of online orders by sending fake delivery texts or emails claiming a delivery was unsuccessful. They then send a link with a price to redeliver. Even if the sum seems reasonable, their goal is to secure your card details. 
  • Refund scams. It can be tempting to click on messages that promise our money back. But if we are not expecting a refund, it’s best to proceed with caution. Scammers pose as the council or well-known brands asking for our bank details so they can give us money. 
  • Ecard and gift card scams. Watch out for unexpected festive messages and emails. Scammers will send out holiday e-cards with links that can spread viruses on your computer or pose as loved ones asking for gift cards. 
  • Romance scams. Scammers will go to incredible lengths to get our money, including faking romantic interest. As they slowly gain our trust, they will eventually ask for money, promising to pay us back. They may also be after our identity, so it is best to protect our private information. 

Another thing to be aware of is a new scam known as ‘quishing’. It’s a scame where we’re asked to scan a QR code rather than click a link.

It then takes us to a malicious website that infects our device or tries to steal our personal details. A good rule of thumb is to scan a QR code only when we trust where it comes from.

If we do come across a scam, it is important to call our bank and ask for the fraud hotline. We can also report the scam to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or contact Citizens Advice for additional assistance. 

We shouldn’t beat ourselves up though. Scammers prey on our emotions and use tricks and tactics that can be very difficult to see through. 

The best we can do is stay informed, proceed with caution, and don’t let them steal our holiday spirit. 

Image: Julia Larson / Pexels

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